One of the things I am naturally drawn to is to observe human behavior and particularly leadership and organizational behavior. Over the last many years we have been transformed by the Holy Spirit in this present of move God. I personally was touched in 1993 as a student at Oral Roberts University by the ministry of Rodney Howard-Browne around the same time when the Toronto blessing outpouring began. We as a church have been in this move of God since August of 1999. This outpouring as been transforming and has “ruined” me for sure! As a student of church history and revival I am not shocked or surprised by the overemphasis of certain truth or teachings, it happens in every revival and it almost seems like the overemphasis is needed in order to bring a balance.
One of the truths that I have seen overemphasized in recent years is the “grace culture” teaching. In a nut shell it states that in order to bring people into their God given potential and purpose there must be a culture that is grace filled and has a revelation of the Father’s unconditional love and acceptance. Let me stop here and say that I wholeheartedly believe this and teach it. I don’t want to get into all of the areas of overemphasis here in this blog but I want to limit it to the area of leaders and leadership.
The misapplication of the grace truth that I am seeing more and more is that of not recognizing that “grace” and Leadership trust or appointment are not the same thing. The New Testament holds those in leadership to a higher standard and conduct. Here is a partial list from Paul’s letters to Timothy and Titus: blameless, the husband of one wife, temperate, sober minded, of good behavior, hospitable, able to teach, not given to wine, not violent, not greedy for money, gentle, not quarrelsome, not covetous, one who rules his own house well with his children in submission, not a novice, has a good testimony among those who are outside, not self-willed, not quick-tempered, lover of what is good, responsible steward, just, holy, self-controlled, and hold fast to the Word. Now of course how each one is measured and applied changes from leadership culture to leadership culture, but the point is that there are standards that are set for those who are in leadership that are not set necessarily for those who are not yet in leadership. What that means is Grace is applied the same for all since we are all believers first but the consequences of and or application is different for those in church leadership or aspiring to be in leadership versus everyone else.
For example one of the requirements of those in church leadership is to “have a good testimony among those who are outside.” This means your reputation, business dealings, your interactions and reputation with those outside the church including your personal conduct with the opposite sex etc. If the leader does not have a good reputation with those outside the church they cannot simply say, “I now repent of that” and continue in leadership or be promoted to it. Repentance in this realm has to do with restitution, longevity and proving out their lifestyle and conduct. This is not a “legalistic” approach or burden, it is simply the requirement of Scripture in order for those who lead in the body of Christ to lead with integrity, character and effectiveness. Grace and forgiveness is never the issue because God is always forgiving and restoring. In my observation churches that have an extreme “grace culture” never are truly thriving or fruitful and multiplying in any significant way. I believe the reason for this is simple, fruitful leadership must be biblical leadership. To truly lead in the fruitful manner that God intended for us to function and in Apostolic authority we must follow God’s pattern for leadership. Most importantly leadership is not about methods but about the person that God is forming and using.
My attempt is not to put a heavier burden on those who are already carrying the burden of leadership but to simply give us some things to think about and remember no matter how great that message sounded at the conference, we always need to come back and line it up with biblical truth. Peace.